Northwest RiverPartners greatly respects the Northwest Energy Coalition (NWEC)—especially its successes in increasing energy efficiency in the region. We believe that energy efficiency is a key tool in the region’s arsenal to fight climate change.
In 2018, NWEC released a theoretical report—produced by Energy Strategies—that indicated the lower Snake River dams could be cost-effectively and easily replaced, primarily by wind generation in Montana. The report relied largely on power supply assumptions from 2016.
Since the report was released, the Northwest Power & Conservation Council, the Northwest Power Pool, and E3 have issued dire warnings over the possibility of regional blackouts. It is also noteworthy that Energy Strategies has updated many of its assumptions in a more recent analysis performed on behalf of Oregon, Washington, and several clean energy providers. Energy Strategies is now predicting an energy capacity shortfall for the region.
In the years since its release, the NWEC report has been cited often as a clear indicator that the lower Snake River dams are no longer necessary to the region. Due to the dated information and shifts in perspective on the future of energy supply in our region, we felt compelled to perform a thorough analysis by using updated information.
Northwest RiverPartners commissioned Energy GPS, a leading energy consulting firm, to provide an analysis of NWEC’s 2018 report.
The Energy GPS critique demonstrates that the NWEC study was thorough but is based on questionable and dated assumptions that cast doubts on its conclusions. These doubts come in light of recently announced coal generation retirements and other predicted shifts in regional energy supply and demand.